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In the Month of the Midnight Sun by Cecilia…
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In the Month of the Midnight Sun

by Cecilia Ekbäck

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Dual review with Swedish first and then English!

SWEDISH REVIEW

Midnattssolens timme innehåller alla de element som jag verkligen gillar i en bok. Jag är oerhört förtjust i att läsa historiska spänningsromaner och den samiska kulturen har i flera år fascinerat mig. Jag har inte läst Cecilia Ekbäcks tidigare roman I varjavinterns land, en den ligger högt på listan på böcker jag vill läsa.

Magnus Stille är svärson till justitieministern i Sverige. Magnus skickas upp till Svartåsen i Lappland för att kartlägga området. Men han är egentligen där för att undersöka omständigheterna till mordet på en tre män som brutalt mördades av en same. Med på resan är också Magnus svägerska Lovisa som har tvingats av sin far att resa med då hennes beteende inte passar in hur en kvinna ska bete sig på den tiden. I alla fall är det vad hennes far anser. Väl upp i Svartåsen så märker de att något inte står rätt till, det vilar ett mörker över det lilla samhället uppe i Svartåsen...

Jag fann boken oerhört fascinerande att läsa, förutom den spännande historien ger boken en insyn i svenskarnas behandling av samer, hur de skulle kristnas och hur marken togs ifrån de, Ekbäck berättat skickligt i denna bok hur samerna har behandlats. Hur de klassas som andra sortens människor, som om de pga av utseendet och sättet de lever på är dummare. Tyvärr det denna rasism inte något som har försvunnit i nutid. Boken är oerhört intressant och då jag älskar när berättelser har en övernaturlig udd så fann jag denna bok speciellt intressant då gränsen mellan verklighet och det övernaturliga mellan varven suddas ut.

I Midnsattsolens timme är en fantastisk bok, en av den bästa historiska spänningsromaner jag har läst. Förutom det mystiska fallet med de döda männen så tycker jag att Ekbäcks beskrivning av kvinnors liv på 1800-talet i Sverige är fascinerande att läsa om. Magnus svägerska Lovisa kan inte som sin mor och syster anpassa sig och för henne blir det då antingen klostret eller dårhuset, det är upp till Magnus vad hennes öde blir. För det är en mans värld de lever i...

Tack till Wahlströms och Widstrand förlag för recensionsexemplaret!

ENGLISH REVIEW

In the Month of the Midnight Sun contains all the elements that I really like in a book. I am extremely fond of reading historical suspense novels and Sami culture has for years fascinated me. I have not read Cecilia Ekbäcks earlier novel The Wolf Winter. However, it is high on the list of books I want to read.

Magnus Stille is son-in-law to the Minister of Justice in Sweden. Magnus is sent up to Svartåsen (The Black Ridge) in Lapland to survey the area. However, he is really there to investigate the circumstances of the murder of the three men who were brutally murdered by a Sami. On the trip is also Magnus sister-in-law Lovisa who have been forced by her father to travel with Magnus because her behavior does not fit how a woman should behave at the time. At least that's what her father thinks. When they arrive at Svartåsen do they notice that something is not right, there is a darkness over the small village that they are staying at in Svartåsen...

I found the book extremely fascinating to read, in addition to the compelling story does the book also give an insight into the Swedes' treatment of the Sami people, how they were christened and how the land was taken away from them. Ekbäck skillfully tells the reader in this book how the Sami have been treated. How they are classified as different kinds of race and that the appearance and the way they live are dumber. Unfortunately, this kind of racism is not unheard of today. The book is extremely interesting, and I love when stories have a supernatural vibe so I found this book especially interesting because the line between reality and the supernatural is often crossed.

In the Month of the Midnight Sun is an amazing book, one of the best historical suspense novels I have read. Besides the mysterious case of the dead men, do I think Ekbäcks description of women's lives in the 1800s in Sweden was fascinating to read about. Magnus sister-in-law Lovisa cannot like her mother and sister adapt to the life that is expected, and because of that will it either be the cloister or madhouse for her. It is up to Magnus what her fate will be. For it is a man's world they live in...

Thanks to Wahlströms och Widstrand förlag for the review copy! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Nov 2, 2017 |
SWEDISH REVIEW

Midnattssolens timme innehåller alla de element som jag verkligen gillar i en bok. Jag är oerhört förtjust i att läsa historiska spänningsromaner och den samiska kulturen har i flera år fascinerat mig. Jag har inte läst Cecilia Ekbäcks tidigare roman I varjavinterns land, en den ligger högt på listan på böcker jag vill läsa.

Magnus Stille är svärson till justitieministern i Sverige. Magnus skickas upp till Svartåsen i Lappland för att kartlägga området. Men han är egentligen där för att undersöka omständigheterna till mordet på en tre män som brutalt mördades av en same. Med på resan är också Magnus svägerska Lovisa som har tvingats av sin far att resa med då hennes beteende inte passar in hur en kvinna ska bete sig på den tiden. I alla fall är det vad hennes far anser. Väl upp i Svartåsen så märker de att något inte står rätt till, det vilar ett mörker över det lilla samhället uppe i Svartåsen...

Jag fann boken oerhört fascinerande att läsa, förutom den spännande historien ger boken en insyn i svenskarnas behandling av samer, hur de skulle kristnas och hur marken togs ifrån de, Ekbäck berättat skickligt i denna bok hur samerna har behandlats. Hur de klassas som andra sortens människor, som om de pga av utseendet och sättet de lever på är dummare. Tyvärr det denna rasism inte något som har försvunnit i nutid. Boken är oerhört intressant och då jag älskar när berättelser har en övernaturlig udd så fann jag denna bok speciellt intressant då gränsen mellan verklighet och det övernaturliga mellan varven suddas ut.

I Midnsattsolens timme är en fantastisk bok, en av den bästa historiska spänningsromaner jag har läst. Förutom det mystiska fallet med de döda männen så tycker jag att Ekbäcks beskrivning av kvinnors liv på 1800-talet i Sverige är fascinerande att läsa om. Magnus svägerska Lovisa kan inte som sin mor och syster anpassa sig och för henne blir det då antingen klostret eller dårhuset, det är upp till Magnus vad hennes öde blir. För det är en mans värld de lever i...

Tack till Wahlströms och Widstrand förlag för recensionsexemplaret!

ENGLISH REVIEW

In the Month of the Midnight Sun contains all the elements that I really like in a book. I am extremely fond of reading historical suspense novels and Sami culture has for years fascinated me. I have not read Cecilia Ekbäcks earlier novel The Wolf Winter. However, it is high on the list of books I want to read.

Magnus Stille is son-in-law to the Minister of Justice in Sweden. Magnus is sent up to Svartåsen (The Black Ridge) in Lapland to survey the area. However, he is really there to investigate the circumstances of the murder of the three men who were brutally murdered by a Sami. On the trip is also Magnus sister-in-law Lovisa who have been forced by her father to travel with Magnus because her behavior does not fit how a woman should behave at the time. At least that's what her father thinks. When they arrive at Svartåsen do they notice that something is not right, there is a darkness over the small village that they are staying at in Svartåsen...

I found the book extremely fascinating to read, in addition to the compelling story does the book also give an insight into the Swedes' treatment of the Sami people, how they were christened and how the land was taken away from them. Ekbäck skillfully tells the reader in this book how the Sami have been treated. How they are classified as different kinds of race and that the appearance and the way they live are dumber. Unfortunately, this kind of racism is not unheard of today. The book is extremely interesting, and I love when stories have a supernatural vibe so I found this book especially interesting because the line between reality and the supernatural is often crossed.

In the Month of the Midnight Sun is an amazing book, one of the best historical suspense novels I have read. Besides the mysterious case of the dead men, do I think Ekbäcks description of women's lives in the 1800s in Sweden was fascinating to read about. Magnus sister-in-law Lovisa cannot like her mother and sister adapt to the life that is expected, and because of that will it either be the cloister or madhouse for her. It is up to Magnus what her fate will be. For it is a man's world they live in...

Thanks to Wahlströms och Widstrand förlag for the review copy! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Apr 14, 2017 |
I really liked Ekbäck’s first novel, Wolf Winter, so I was really interested in reading this second one, again set near the fictional Blackåsen Mountain in Swedish Lapland.

Events are set in 1856 in the summer when the sun barely sets in northern Sweden. Three settlers have been killed by a Lapp in the settlement near Blackåsen. Magnus Stille, a geologist, is sent by his father-in-law, the Minister of Justice, to investigate the murders while mapping the iron-rich mountain. Magnus is also instructed to take Lovisa, his sister-in-law, with him since her father has banished her from his home for some unacceptable behaviour. The two of them make the arduous trip to remote Blackåsen where they find a mountain and a community reluctant to divulge its secrets.

There are three narrators: Magnus, Lovisa, and Biija/Ester, an elderly Lapp woman who guides Magnus around the mountain. A fourth narrator, a voice from the spirit world, appears about a third of the way through the novel; this voice utters three unsettling words in its first narration: “There you are” (96).

There is a claustrophobic atmosphere. The village is remote and isolated and its inhabitants “’keep to themselves . . . [and] don’t like strangers’” (74). It’s obvious that there are secrets which they do not want to share. Nearby is a tribe of the mysterious Lapps who are perceived as a threat by some people. And then there’s the desolate landscape and the mountain itself which overlooks everything and is a constant, brooding presence.

A mystery needs to be solved. Did the Lapp in custody actually kill the three settlers? He refuses to speak to defend himself. If he is guilty, what was his motivation? There are, however, other conflicts as well. As the book blurb states, this is a story “of the collision of worlds old and new.” The possible mining of the mountain is opposed by those who want it left alone, as it has been in the past. The Lapps believe that humans, animals, and nature are connected and so have a deep respect for nature. This view, the bedrock of their traditional faith, clashes with the advances of industrialization and Christianity, both of which focus on man dominating nature.

Besides showing the destruction of native culture and the land, the book also touches on the patriarchal domination of women. Lovisa is a woman who is very much a victim of male oppression. She is expected to conform to society’s expectations; since she does not, she is sent into exile by her father. She is even told by a friend of her father’s, “’I don’t know anything about you. Nothing at all. But I can imagine your life has not been easy. . . . Your father thought any human a blank slate that could be tailored to whatever he wanted it to be. . . . I wanted to say that it is likely that whatever has happened between you and your father is not your fault’” (234). Lovisa thinks about Magnus: “He’s a man. He can choose what to do, when, and with whom, without suffering ill will and small-mindedness. I can’t” (92). Magnus eventually realizes, “If Lovisa had been encouraged, given responsibilities as a young girl, if she hadn’t been asked to conform, what would she have been like today” (166)?

Several examples are inserted of what happens to women who do not meet expectations: a woman is placed in a madhouse by her husband (57); a radical female writer who questions rules is “unspoken to by the men, avoided by the women” (94); Lovisa’s mother is thought of as “a lesser being” by her husband (208); and a woman marries and breeds to escape from a domineering father (282).

The paternalistic attitude also extends to the Lapps. Various people speak of them in derogatory terms: “’Ignorant, yes. Some say apathetic, without any drive to better themselves or create proper lives’” (17) and “’The Lapps are like children. Nomads, you know, less evolved. We are trying to help them, but they are unsteady’” (51) and “’their spirits are weak’” (78). Marriage to a Lapp, Lovisa sees only as a punishment (266) or an act of desperation (282). For me, one of the saddest observations is made by Biija. Her husband Nila, the tribe’s shaman, recently died: “Nila was our mapmaker, the keeper of our memories, of our legends, and he was the last one. Never again will our people have a noiade. Without him, we have no past” (175).

Characterization is excellent. The three major narrators are fully developed characters with strengths and weaknesses, good qualities and flaws. At times I was angered by the behaviour of both Magnus and Lovisa, and yet at other times, I could not but feel sympathy for them. Magnus and Lovisa also grow and change; Magus finds his identity and Lovisa discovers a cause.

The revelations are not a total surprise; by page 189, I guessed a major secret because of the foreshadowing. Neither is the ending a surprise; in fact, the ending seems inevitable. However, the ending will also give you reason to think and think again.

I found this a compelling read. Some of the supernatural elements sometimes bothered me but they are totally appropriate to the time and place. Whether set in relentless winter or relentless summer, Ekbäck’s novels do not disappoint.

Please check out my reader's blog (http://schatjesshelves.blogspot.ca/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | Mar 31, 2017 |
This is an interesting book. It's not fast-paced but there is a continual thread of knowing something is going on underneath what can be seen, something sinister. It kept me interested, and the switching character viewpoints worked well, actually making it harder to put down. Every now and then the wording seemed a fraction wrong, like a mistranslation, but it added to the character of the book.
Not as much action as I had expected, but a good read.
I received my copy for free through Goodreads' First Reads. ( )
  AngelaJMaher | Oct 3, 2016 |
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Stockholm 1856. 'Worst thing I ever saw...' A telegram arrives on the Minister of Justice's desk. A massacre on one of Lapland's mountains - a priest, a law enforcement officer, and a local settler have been slaughtered by one of the indigenous Sami people. The murderer is in custody; he refuses to talk. The Minister dispatches his son-in-law, a geologist, to investigate for there is more than one reason to visit Blackasen: it is a mountain with many secrets, a mountain that has never been mapped. Magnus does not journey alone. The Minister's daughter, in disgrace, is sent with him. What they discover about the murders and what lies behind them will be as nothing compared with what they discover about themselves. And self-knowledge will come at a bitter price. From the stifling heat and restricted society of a Stockholm summer to the wild landscape of Sweden's far north, this novel tells a powerful story of the collision of worlds old and new.… (more)

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